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Julie's recipes for March 3rd

London Fog Crème Brûlée

Bergamot adds a citrus-vanilla fragrance to black tea, and is a delicious addition to creamy crème brûlée, but try substituting other teas, such as lavender or chai.

3 cups heavy (whipping) cream
1-2 Tbsp. loose Earl Grey tea leaves
1 large egg
5 large egg yolks
½ cup sugar, plus extra for topping

Preheat the oven to 300˚F.

In a medium saucepan, heat the cream and loose tea until steaming, without bringing it to a boil. Remove from the heat and set aside for about 10 minutes. Pour the cream through a sieve into a bowl, discarding the tea leaves or saving them for another use.

Meanwhile, whisk together the egg, yolks and sugar. Slowly whisk in the warm cream, stirring constantly. Place 6 ramekins into a roasting pan or 9x13-inch baking dish (put a cloth or piece of cheesecloth on the bottom if you like to keep them from sliding around) and divide the custard between the ramekins.

Carefully pour boiling water into the pan to come about halfway up the sides of the ramekins, and bake for 30 minutes, or until set but still jiggle slightly. Cool in the pan, then refrigerate for at least a few hours, until well chilled and set.

To caramelize the tops, sprinkle each with a spoonful of sugar and shake gently to evenly cover the top. Run under the broiler for a minute, or use a blowtorch to caramelize the sugar. Let stand until it cools and hardens.

Makes 6 crème brûlée.

Earl Grey Shortbread

If your tea leaves are already exhausted, don't worry about softening them with boiling water.

1 Tbsp. loose Earl Grey tea leaves
1 cup butter, at room temperature
½ cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. salt

Preheat the oven to 325˚F.

If you're starting with dry tea leaves, put them into a small dish and pour just enough boiling water over them to cover (about a tablespoon or two); set aside for a few minutes, then pour off the water.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the butter, sugar and softened tea leaves until well blended and creamy. Add the flour and salt and pulse until the dough comes together.

Roll the dough into walnut-sized balls and place on a parchment-lined sheet. Press down with a cookie stamp, bottom of a glass, or crisscrossed with a fork. (Alternatively, roll the dough into a log, wrap and chill, then slice and bake.) Bake for 10 minutes, or until pale golden around the edges.

Cool on the pan or on a wire rack. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

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